Written by Colin Mitchell
Published: December 5, 2014 at 3:07 AM [UTC]
I am only a beginner violinist, at just over a year into my studies, while I have been smoking for over twenty years. I find it quite difficult to substitute one for the other. I, instead, have to make time to practice, while I find it easy to vape for no apparent reason. There are idioms in my head of a nature which say.. No great violinist these days uses anything addictive. They're all great role models.
I love the violin! I love music! I am unfortunately perplexed by a need to do something which is very easy to me, although mildly costly, and dedicating my whole day to practicing a piece I have been working on for around two months now.
it is difficult for me to 'sing' with my instrument. I hear the nuances in the play along cd version I am supposed to sound like. It is the believing I can do those nuances. I question whether I am deep enough emotionally to 'feel' the necessary emotions which, the current piece I am working on evokes. Some of the passages seem quite painful. While sitting on my couch puffing seems pleasurable. How can I talk myself into being enough of a person to put aside my hedonistic sensibilities for pleasure, and commit to the piece at hand.
I mean honestly, they do seem related. This shallowness of person who can't quite express a deeply meaningful phrase, and puffing. As far as I can tell, it only gets in the way. On the other hand, when I do feel more in the game, puffing is a nice break from routine, keeping me from becoming obsessive about practicing. The only thing is, I'm not sure that's what I want.
I have to be careful about how often I try to quit vaping as well, as failing to only leads to a downward spiral of emotions which are difficult to practice through. I want to be a great violinist. I want to play in an orchestra. I want to be a soloist! This requires much practice. The side of me that has smoked for twenty years, however, doesn't seem to care.
So I have a few questions for you from this... One.. Do any of you know any successful classical violinists who vape/smoke? ... Two ... Is it normal to have trouble emoting some of the more emotional passages of music we come across in the music world? ... And three... Is it really healthy to practice five to eight hours a day if your lifestyle allows for it?
just trying to get a life in order, and would appreciate any supportive insight you all may have to offer!
You referred to how often you try to quit smoking, which more than suggests that you genuinely want to quit. Still, as long as there's anything attractive to you about the habit, it's really hard to break the addiction.
So think about the long-term effect of smoking on your health. I don't doubt you already have, but do it some more. Nicotine is a poison, and my one brief experience with it was enough to convince me that my system doesn't need it.
When I was almost 12 y/o, I tried to smoke -- and became violently ill as a result. Fortunately, I recovered the same day. To me, there was no longer anything attractive or appealing about smoking.
About hours of practice: As a kid, I was a practice geek -- my parents didn't have to tell me to practice. Instead, they had to remind me when it was time to wrap up. I worked my way up to 5-6 hours of practice in one day by the time I was 15 y/o. That one experience also put me out of commission for one day -- though I didn't become violently ill, as I had from my juvenile attempt at smoking. This time, I became drained of energy and lost all appetite.
Now my parents were really concerned that I was overdoing the practice, but I got things better in balance after that. These days, I practice and play up to 3 hours a day. Different players have different needs and tolerance levels -- one size, or practice schedule, won't fit all. FWIW, I'm not in the music business.
Hope this helps -- if not right now, then maybe down the road.
In my case, I'm trying to get over some anxiety-related habits: stress-eating, and surfing the web aimlessly. I've been tracking myself to figure out the triggers, and what I notice is that I do both of these when I have difficult social interactions, too many decisions to make, or both. There are also some very specific things that make me anxious that probably only apply to me, but I'd guess we all have our things. I've also been told by friends who wanted to quit smoking that one of the reasons they smoked was that they found it calming and/or relieved anxiety. So I think there are parallels.
In these anxiety-provoking situations, I really want something to do with my hands, and playing the violin can serve as that. Certain composers are better than others for this, I find: the Bach family, lots of fast 16th notes, some baroque short notes, some Mozart (the overture to the Abduction from the Seraglio in particular seems pretty good--also as running or exercise music). Beethoven.
You don't want to perform anything this way, but in the privacy of your own practice room . . . I sometimes just come to the end of a practice workout with something fast and furious, and I feel tired, but better, and the anxiety is gone--as is the desire to stress-eat or web surf.
Also, make a playlist of go-to pieces that you can listen to when you feel the urge to smoke. It probably won't all be classical (I've got the Ramones in mine, mixed in with Handel), but again, I think that this music, and the process of playing the violin, can provide you with ways to safely handle that anxious feeling if you are using smoking as a way to self-soothe.
I also have my violin hanging on a hanger (e.g. http://www.amazon.com/String-Swing-Studio-Violin-Hanger/dp/B0009S5JMM) so that I can take it down and just play it for 5 minutes rather than do something like get a snack or just check my email that can lead to something even less constructive.
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